Friday, April 29, 2011

Malaysian still clamouring for panda

Malaysia is still hoping that China will loan its most famous icon, the panda, as a strong gesture towards long standing relationship between the two countries which established diplomatic relations in 1974.

The president of the Federation of Malaysian Chinese Association, Tan Sri Pheng Yin Hua, said Malaysia was among the first countries to have established diplomatic ties with China and both countries had enjoyed a long history of diplomatic relations as well as trade exchanges.

"It would be of great significance if China could loan a pair of pandas to Malaysia as a symbolic gesture for such long standing relationship between the two countries. Many countries have enjoyed the panda diplomacy policy. We hope China can lend us their pandas," he told Bernama in an interview.

He hoped that the Malaysian government would hold talks with its Chinese counterpart on the matter so that Malaysia would have the chance to see China's "national treasure" on Malaysian soil.

"This is something the people are expecting and they will be grateful," he said.

The pandas were wildly popular and China's gift was seen as an enormous diplomatic success since it revived panda diplomacy in the 1950s where between 1958 to 1982, China gave 23 pandas to nine different countries.

One highlight of the panda diplomacy was the Chinese government's gift of two pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, to the United States in 1972 after President Richard Nixon's historic visit to China where President Nixon reciprocated by sending back a pair of musk oxen.

By 1984, however, pandas were no longer used purely as agents of diplomacy as China began to offer pandas to other nations only on ten-year loans, with standard loan terms including a fee of up to USD1,000,000 (RM3 million) per year and a provision that any cubs born during the loan would be the property of the People's Republic of China.

Previously, there was an attempt to bring the pandas to Malaysia but this had not materialised as it involved a very complicated yet painstaking process which included a high maintenance cost as well as an agreement between leaders of both countries.

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